As secretary of defense during the Obama administration he pushed policies to modernize how DOD buys technology as well as opening the door to women and transgender people to serve in the military more fully.
Ashton Carter, President Obama’s last secretary of defense and an advocate for modernizing the way the government buys technology, died Monday at age 68.
As undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, Carter was behind the push to bring more Silicon Valley tech companies into the government as suppliers of innovative technologies.
After he became defense secretary in 2015, he approved the creation of the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, or DIUx, as a full-time outreach office to bridge the gap between innovations in the private sector and the defense market.
His goal was to tear down the bureaucracy between the Pentagon and tech startups.
That is probably what Carter will be best remember for in the world of government IT, but he had a broader cultural impact on the Defense Department and the military.
Under his leadership, DOD opened combat roles to women and allowed transgender men and women to enlist. The transgender policy was rescinded by the Trump administration but reinstate under President Biden.
While Carter had no military experience, he did serve in defense policy areas for more than 30 years. During the Clinton administration, he was an assistant secretary of defense for international security policy focused on former Soviet states and nuclear weapons.
During his career, he received the DOD Distinguished Public Service Medal five times.